It is just about here – a brand New Year. Within hours we will be changing the calendars and beginning the year of 2017.
But are we ready? Are we prepared? Several people have shared with me that they are glad that 2016 is coming to a close and that they can look at the New Year as a fresh start – or new beginning. On the other hand there are some that have had a great year and wish it would never end.
Regardless of how we look at or think about the past year and look at the New Year – we may need to prepare, because it is upon us. Financial advisors are constantly encouraging us to prepare for retirement, preachers consistently challenge us to prepare for eternity and teachers are trying to prepare their students for the up coming test, so why should we think that we can simply step into the year of 2017 – and have a great year without preparing?
In the Book of Joshua the people of God are on the edge of the Promised Land – ready to move forward and experience something that they are only dreamed of and hoped for, for years.
God – through Joshua shared with His people, “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to … the Israelites” (Joshua 1:2) God was ready but He wanted to people to get ready.
We may be aware that New Years is ticking closer and closer – but God would love for us to be ready. In order to be ready we really do not need a bottle of bubbly nor do we even need a list of resolutions. Ok, then what do we need in order to be prepared as Christians for 2017?
First – we must be Ready for God to do something!
Although we may have a perception that Joshua was a strong and mighty man, we have to understand that he was very aware of his own weakness and inabilities. Joshua did not jump up and say he wanted to fill the shoes of Moses. He did not take control of the leadership position out of pride and personal desire. Joshua was called – chosen – selected by the Almighty to lead the chosen people. Each of us are called of God – but to different places and different task.
God wants each of us to grow into willing servants and to be successful in being more than we are today. But God does not require anyone to move forward in their own strength or ability. He simply wants us to allow Him to work within us and through us.
Secondly – we must have ready to listen and obey!
Joshua and the people of God needed to “be strong and courageous.” They had to listen and obey.
We are about to step into the New Year and we will need to “be strong and courageous” but we cannot do it by ourselves.
The people of Israel needed to hear and remember what God shared in Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. They would never be alone in the journey before them – the Great Awesome Almighty was going to be walking every step and climbing every mountain and crossing every valley, with them. They simply needed to listen and obey.
Third – we must be ready to work together!
Everything that was about to happen to the people of God – was not just about God nor was it just about Joshua – it was about God, Joshua, all of the people of Israel and the generations that would follow. When God spoke to Joshua in 10:2, He clearly said “You and all these people”.
If I am going to move into 2017 with any hope of having a successful and productive year – I will need God and everyone around me to work with me. I need help. Joshua needed help. And while God is all powerful and could do everything Himself – God has chosen to use us and request our help. God, Himself wants to work in a unified way to bless each of us.
But finally, we must be Ready for challenges and even conflict.
In Joshua 1:11 we read, “now you will cross the Jordan here and go in and take possession of the land”. You do not go into the “land” or the New Year expecting that everything will be handed over to you. When you take steps into the future you will have challenges, debates, struggles, disagreements, and maybe even fights. But if in submission to the Divine God that guides you – you will succeed, grow, learn and be more of what He wants you to be.
The New Year is about here – maybe we need to spend some time with Him in prayer and meditation – to prepare – because it really can be a Great Year with Him!
Gene Vincent is the pastor of Flat Rock Fellowship Baptist Church, 10830 Morgantown Road in Woodburn. Worship service is at 10 a.m. every Sunday.